Large infrastructure investments by Oxford Airport’s private owners have paid off with the London-area airport now claiming a spot as the UK’s fifth busiest business aviation airport. As of last month, year-to-date traffic growth at Oxford was 12.2 percent, which, according to business development director James Dillon-Godfray, was markedly ahead of the flat or declining situation at other UK airports (see box).
Just ahead of this week’s EBACE show, the airport activated its new primary and secondary radar systems. This is the result of a $7.2 million investment with Thales UK providing a radar for a project managed by NATS. It will allow more efficient transits through local airspace, while also increasing the throughput of IFR movements by reducing separation from nine to three minutes and allowing for SAR and vectored approaches.
The mode-S MSSR radar allows Oxford’s controllers to monitor UK airspace from the Thames Estuary in the east to Wales in the west and the English Channel to the south. This year, the privately owned airport will be spending another $1.4 million to complete a refit of the communications system for its tower.
Last year, the licensed length of Oxford’s runway was increased by 21 percent to 5,223 feet and the strength of the runway has been reassessed to a rating of PCN 38, meaning that it can be used by heavier business jets such as the Embraer Lineage. The increased takeoff length means that longer range jets, such as the Dassault Falcon 7X, Bombardier’s Global family and the Gulfstream G550, can make transatlantic flights under commercial rules.
Oxford now boasts an additional 192,000 sq ft of apron space and has spent around $3.5 million to resurface a significant area of the existing ramp. The total available parking space for aircraft now covers 377,000 sq ft, which it expects to fill with around 40 aircraft during this summer’s London Olympic Games.
According to Dillon-Godfray, Oxford’s position outside the restricted airspace zone that will be in place during the Olympics will make it a convenient option for operators, as will its 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. hours of operation throughout the week. Oxford’s owners, the Reuben Brothers, recently acquired the London Heliport, giving fixed-wing customers the option of having their passengers make an onward connection by helicopter, with charter service available through local operator Capital Air Services.
Meanwhile, at the airport entrance, construction is under way on the first of two 18,000-sq-ft office buildings, which will be available for rent. Also planned is a four-lane entrance road and improved reception building. The site also offers almost 250,000 sq ft of hangar space. The airport is home to 20 tenant companies employing more than 800 people and 30 resident aircraft in the hands of seven operators.